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L&H unveils Linux speech engine

Goodbye GUI, yellow SUI?

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Lernout & Hauspie has unveiled its automatic speech recognition and text-to-speech engines running on a prototype CyberGenie 2400 from Cygnion (a spin-off from Ericsson that is now funded by the WK Technology Fund). At the Demo 2000 meeting at Indian Wells, Cal. L&H claimed a first for its large-vocabulary engine, which runs on Linux, and makes it possible to listen to the full text, or summaries, of email. The demo included ordering a book from Amazon.com, finding the weather forecast, and carrying out a stock transaction online from a PDA, all using voice commands. Evidently some of those present at the meeting succeeded in contacting their brokers, because there was a surge in the L&H share price around 2pm, with a 40 per cent rise at one stage before they settled down last night, up 24 percent. The extent to which speech user interfaces (SUIs) will take over from GUIs remains to be seen, but the current uses are likely to be in environments where hands-free operation is desirable or essential. So far there has been no demonstration of joggers' huff-and-puff speech, but work is proceeding on using such interfaces when technicians need to access manuals to carry out servicing in confined spaces. ®

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